Last week, I was driving up Leura Mall and the battered car in front of me suddenly screeched to a halt and parked, right in the middle of the road. I thought, what the hell? And watched as a harried, annoyed woman got out and marched over to the pavement.
I sat there, amused, as all these cars banked up behind me. Someone honked, further back.
I watched this woman run up to a frail old man, scoop him into her arms, and gently but firmly lead him back towards her car.
In an instant I realised what happened - she was a nurse at the local aged care facility just down the road, and the guy was going for a walk when he shouldn't have been.
I looked at her car again, it had some faded stickers, and was quite old. She would probably rather be anywhere else in the world than holding up traffic one spring afternoon, at the risk of pissing off all the cars behind her. She probably works really hard for shitty wages. She hesitantly looked up at me, and I smiled my biggest warmest smile. I wanted my smile to say, "It's ok! Don't worry ... and you're doing a great job!"
She smiled back, really grateful that I didn't have my cranky pants on.
The old guy, trying to make a move .. I would run away too, if I was locked up in a home. He shuffled out and slowly eased himself down into the car. I wondered what kind of life he had lived until that point, all the things he'd seen and done.
I hope he'd had a good one.
I keep thinking about it. How we all have a shared humanity .. a social responsibility to each other. We are all the nurse. We are all the old guy. We are all the people waiting in the cars, needing to have compassion.